Brandon Ong (of YAA SUI): Chic Freak

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source: Brandon Ong

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It’s been slightly more than two years since the underground rumblings of YAA SUI first came to our attention. The inaugural party, organised by Brandon, Edward Choo, Sun Khiew, Peas Hon, Maxx Chuo, and Griffin Leong back in 2012 gave a new lease of life to lovers of quirky and offbeat fashion styles prior to this limited to just a singular building – Sungei Wang Plaza – by providing a platform for them to show off their individualistic sense of style. Since then YAA SUI has grown to become a legitimate fashion and subcultural movement in its own right, with their most prominent figure (and spokesman) Brandon working behind the scenes to promote their brand of outré chic to larger audiences with every coming year. If you ever watched him on YAA SUI’s YouTube channel, you might think Brandon was a Sacha Baron Cohen figure trolling everyone from fashion figures and hipsters to kampong vintage enthusiasts back in his hometown, but the slender fashion outlier turned out to be more self-serious than expected. JUICE speaks to Brandon about dropping out of law school, the local fashion scene, and his hopes for the year…

Congratulations on reaching two years with YAA SUI! After so long, what does YAA SUI mean to you now?
YAA SUI means a lot to me because we started from zero, now we’ve come this far, which isn’t actually that far, but at least we’ve achieved something – some sort of an underground scene, because normally people don’t have these kinds of functions or events. So we‘ve tried to create more room for them, so that we can gather all the talent under one room at our parties.

Have your goals with YAA SUI changed since it was first created as a platform for local designers and fashion outsiders?
Our mission and our vision are still the same. We’re a fashion community that wants to reach a wider audience with the message that you don’t have to necessarily wear the same things as what have been featured in magazines and online. During our parties, we gather everyone who has contributed towards the fashion industry, and that’s also why we created the YouTube channel. We hope to reach more people via our parties and social media.

You were from somewhere with zero fashion scene. How did your interest in the culture begin then?
I wanted to wear something different from others. I grew up in Terengganu, and so whenever I came to KL with my family I would buy clothes that no one else was wearing in Terengganu, not just your usual t-shirt and jeans. Until today, it’s still the same. I wear things that are too ‘over’ for fashion. I think there’s no point being the same as others, cause everybody is wearing the same thing. Even those in the fashion industry – take a look at KLFW for example! Everybody’s wearing an all-black outfit. I think fashion should be fun, and you should wear anything you want, and that’s how my interest in fashion began. One day I hope I’ll see more people with different opinions and perspectives on fashion.

You dropped out of law school to study fashion marketing. Why the sudden change of heart?
Firstly, I didn’t do so well in law school. At that time, I met Edward and Sun Khiew from LAH’LAH’LAND, and I saw that they had a very individual style, and I talked to them about it. And that was when I realised that we don’t all have to stick with the same routines, and that we should do something that’s more meaningful to ourselves. That was when I went to Raffles.

Since YAA SUI came into the scene a bit more than two years back, how do you feel the perception of avant-garde, weird fashion has changed here?
I don’t think it’s changed much, but I think more people have wanted to know what YAA SUI is doing, and what it’s about. That’s why I started the videos on YouTube, where I interview pedestrians and regular people about fashion, and obtain a lot of information. Most fashion magazines only interview the key people in the industry, but don’t see things from the point of view of the consumers. But yeah, anyway, from there I’ve seen that there’s only been a small movement, because the majority of people don’t actually know what they like individually, and [only] follow social media trends.

Pessimistic. What are your hopes for the scene in 2015 then?
I’ve lost hope in Malaysia’s fashion scene (laughs). There will still be one, but it will be the same, in five [or] 10 years too. This is because people are following others [and] what social media leads them too. People follow it blindly. I won’t say it’ll be bad, but a lot of indie shops might close down due to the market. What they’re providing isn’t what the market needs.

Still pessimistic (laughs). Are there any new up-and-coming designers whom you feel will make a big splash this year?
I’d say Alan Ooi – [he’s] from Raffles too. His label is called Yii, and it’s bold, and quirky and fun. It was recently brought in to Tokyo to be sold. You should check it out!

Coincidentally, Yii was awarded Best Menswear of 2014 by us!

YAA SUI celebrated their second anniversary on Friday 26 December ’14 at Under9.

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